The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has said that the tennis fixtures at the Ariake Tennis Park in the Tokyo Olympics will start at 3pm Japan Standard Time from Thursday. The decision was taken after requests from players who had struggled to play in hot and humid conditions.
“In the interests of player health and welfare and following extensive consultation, the ITF has announced a change of schedule due to the increasing heat and humidity currently being experienced in Tokyo, Japan,” the ITF said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“The decision to start matches at 3pm JST from Thursday is possible due to the outcomes of today’s matches across the five competitions being staged and the size of player field, and is designed to further safeguard player health. It has been made following consultation with the IOC, Tokyo 2020, Olympic Broadcast Services as well as the Olympic Tennis Event players, referee, medical experts and other key stakeholders,” said the statement.
The announcement comes after world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of ROC struggled in the heat and humidity during his win against Fabio Fognini of Italy. At one point the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, came over and asked if he could continue playing the match.
“I can finish the match but I can die,” Medvedev replied. “If I die, are you (the ITF) going to be responsible?”
After entering the quarterfinals by winning the match 6-2, 3-6 and 6-3, Medvedev said he felt “darkness” in his eyes. “I didn’t know what to do to feel better. I was ready to just fall down on the court.”
Last week, Medvedev and Novak Djokovic had led calls, urging organisers to move the matches to late in the afternoon.
Spain’s Paula Badosa was taken off the court on a wheelchair due to illness in her women’s singles quarterfinal match against Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.